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Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer in My Friend Dahmer. (provided via My Friend Dahmer on Facebook).

Local ties to bring audiences to ‘My Friend Dahmer’

Upon seeing Ross Lynch get into character as Jeffrey Dahmer, Katie Stottlemire said his personality took a 180-degree turn. 

“It was creepy, too, seeing Ross get into character,” Stottlemire, an actress in the film, said in an email. “He’s such a friendly and charismatic guy, and after a new shot would be set up, Ross would put on the glasses and hunch his shoulders and become this quiet, completely different person.” 

On Friday, larger theaters will screen the film My Friend Dahmer, which follows the adolescence of notorious serial killer Dahmer, but The Athena Cinema will start screening the film Nov. 10. 

The movie is based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf, which is a pseudonym for John Backderf, one of Dahmer’s high school classmates. 

There has been a lot of student interest in the film because Dahmer spent some time in Ohio, Alexandra Kamody, the director of the Athena, said. 

“Whenever there is a local connection to something, it really kind of brings excitement and interest,” Kamody said. 

Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was a serial killer and sex offender who killed 17 men and boys over the span of 13 years from 1978 to 1991. He was killed by a prison mate in 1994 at Columbia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. Dahmer also spent time taking classes at Ohio State University and lived in the Akron area for a period of time. 

For some students, seeing how the serial killer grew up is why they are drawn to the film.

“(Dahmer)’s pretty interesting since he led such a wild life,” Sarah Hall, a sophomore studying chemical engineering, said. “It will be interesting to see what he was like when he was younger.”

Stottlemire, who plays Penny, the girlfriend of Backderf in the movie, chose to not research anything about Dahmer before filming as a way to stay in character.

“I didn’t do much research on Dahmer besides what I already knew because my character had no idea who Dahmer would become,” Stottlemire said in an email. “During this film, we all had to set aside our feelings towards him because in our characters' interactions, it was simply another high school student, not a serial killer to be.” 

Kamody tries to screen films that promote discussion, and she believes there will be important issues to talk about.

“I think (mental health) is an important topic and should be talked about and brought into the light,” Kamody said. 

Some news outlets have reported Lynch’s appearance to Dahmer was so similar that people on set were uneasy. 

Some of Dahmer’s classmates were even in the film and played a small role at the filming of a scene at a high school prom.

“One of the people who actually went to school with Dahmer was there as a chaperone,” Stottlemire said in an email. “I talked to him and he said it was really surreal seeing his prom recreated and seeing Ross dressed as Dahmer because it was almost a replica of what he remembered Dahmer to be like.” 


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